© James Barnor, courtesy of Autograph / Drum cover girl Erlin Ibreck, 1966, London.
CREDIT: © James Barnor, courtesy of Autograph / Drum cover girl Erlin Ibreck, 1966, London.

RPS Awardees in conversation... James Barnor HonFRPS

Event info

In this on-going series of 'in conversations' hear from leading individuals talk about how they use photography as artists, scientists, educators, publishers and curators. All our speakers are recent RPS Award recipients who have been recognised for their contribution to the medium. They are discussing their work with those who know them and their work.

James Barnor is a Ghanaian photographer with a passionate interest in people and cultures with a remarkable career spanning more than six decades. He began his practice in the late 1940s in Accra, Ghana, soon setting up his own portrait studio, “Ever Young" in Jamestown.  In 1950, he became the Daily Graphic’s first photojournalist, covering local politics, sports and general news. During this time he also worked for Jim Bailey of Drum Magazine, South Africa’s leading anti-apartheid journal.  Barnor produced culturally significant chronicles of Ghana’s move to independence in the 1950s, and he also captured the swinging 60s in London, documenting multicultural communities and promoting black fashion models on magazines’ front covers.  

In the early 1970s, after a decade in Britain, Barnor opened Ghana’s first colour processing laboratory, as a representative for Agfa-Gevaert. Barnor returned permanently to the UK in 1994 where he held exhibitions at the Black Cultural Archives (2007), a retrospective at Autograph in Rivington Place (2010) which subsequently toured to Impressions Gallery, Bradford (2013) and the South African National Gallery of South Africa, Cape Town (2011), among other venues. Barnor was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the Society in 2020 and will be exhibiting at the Serpentine Gallery in London later this year.

Renée Mussai is Senior Curator and Head of Curatorial & Collections at Autograph, London, a charitable arts agency working internationally in photography and film. A curator, writer and scholar with a particular interest in African and diasporic lens-based practices, she has organised numerous exhibitions internationally and lectures and publishes regularly on photography, visual culture, and curatorial activism. In 2010, she curated James Barnor’s first gallery retrospective at Autograph, and in 2015 edited the accompanying artist monograph ‘Ever Young’. She is also Research Associate at the Visual Identities in Art and Design Research Centre, University of Johannesburg, Associate Lecturer at University of the Arts London and since 2009, regular guest curator and former Fellow at the Hutchins Centre for African & African American Research at Harvard University.

In this illustrated in-conversation, Renée and James will be talking about his background, his practice, his trajectory as a photographer as well as, importantly to the nonagenarian photographer, his mentors and inspirations.

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All talks in this series can be seen here: https://rps.org/awardstalks

Find out more about the RPS Awards here: https://rps.org/about/annual-awards/  


Image: © James Barnor, courtesy of Autograph / Drum cover girl Erlin Ibreck, 1966, London.

Event Organiser

Jo Macdonald


Cancellation policy

This is an online event. The RPS will do its best to ensure that it keeps to the published timings and runs as planned. In the unlikely event that the event has to be cancelled all participants will be advised by email at the earliest opportunity.  No responsibility will be accepted for any consequential losses.



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